Goa, one of the main tourist destinations in the country, will start opening hotels from Thursday, 2 June. The announcement was made by Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on Wednesday.
The state has been closed as part of the nationwide lockdown imposed by the Government of India to impede the spread of COVID-19. However, the lockdown period and the pandemic have especially spelled doom for the hospitality and travel industries. And Goa's economy relies heavily on tourism, apart from mining and pharmaceutical sectors.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the state tourism minister said, "Economically, we are in a bad shape."
Ajgaonkar said that tourists who wish to enter Goa will have to pre-book themselves and should be tested for COVID-19 at most 48 hours prior to their arrival in the state.
A report by The Times of India says that the Goa government has said it will permit around 250 hotels in the state to begin operations. Only those establishments which had applied to the government, signaling their readiness to operate, will be permitted to accept guests with prior bookings.
"Hotels will be allowed to take bookings from Thursday. Let's see how many bookings are received. People are fed up sitting at home. There is a demand to restart tourism," the daily quoted Ajgaonkar as saying.
Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said that tourism sector in the state will have to strictly abide by social distancing and strict standard operating procedures (SOPs). Actions will be taken against violators, Rane said.
Guests, who have not got tested for COVID-19 48 hours before their visit to Goa, will have to pay Rs 2,000 and get a test done in the state.
Hotels which have been allowed to operate will have an isolation facility where guests can wait till they get their COVID-19 test results, the report added.
A report by Times Now mentions that the decision to open Goa for tourists was taken during a state cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
The report also quotes the state tourism minister as saying that strict action would be taken against hotels and guest houses which are not registered with the tourism department but are offering stay facilities via app-based room aggregators.
Goa has so far reported more than 1,385 COVID-19 cases. The deadly virus has claimed lives of five people in the state.